ICC New Testament Commentary
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN
THE PROLOGUE (1:1-18)
The Prologue to the Gospel is in the form of a hymn,1 whose theme is the Christian doctrine of the Logos, explanatory comments being added at various points. Speculations about the Logos of God were current among Greek thinkers, and Jn. does not stay to explain the term, which was in common use at the time. But he sets out, simply and without argument, what he believes the true doctrine to be; and he finds its origin in the Jewish teaching about the Word of God rather than in the theosophy of Greek Gnosticism. Its final justification is the Life and Person of Jesus Christ.
Paul had declared that “a man in Christ is a new creation” (καινὴ κτίσις, 2 Corinthians 5:17). This thought is connected by Jn. with the Jewish doctrine of the creative Word, and accordingly he begins by stating his doctrine of the Logos in phrases which recall the first chapter of Genesis.
The Divine Pre-Existent Word (Vv. 1, 2)
1:1. ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος. The book of Genesis opens with ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν. But Jn. begins his hymn on the creative Logos even farther back. Before anything is said by him about creation, he proclaims that the Logos was in being originally—ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν, not ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐγένετο (see for the distinction on 8:58). This doctrine is also found in the Apocalypse. In that book, Christ is also called the Word of God (19:13), and He is represented (22:13) as claiming pre-existence: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Paul, who does not apply the title “Logos” to Christ, yet has the same doctrine of His pre-existence: “He is before all things” (Colossians 1:17). With this cf. the words ascribed to Jesus in 17:5.
Philo does not teach the pre-existence of the Logos (see Introd., p. cxl); but a close parallel to Jn.’s doctrine is the claim of Wisdom (σοφία) in Proverbs 8:23, κύριος … πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέ με ἐν ἀρχῇ, πρὸ τοῦ τὴν γῆν ποιῆσαι, Jn. never employs the word σοφία (or σόφος), while he uses λόγος of the Personal Christ only here and at v. 14; but it is the Hebrew doctrine of the Divine Word going forth (λόγος προφορικός) rather than the Greek doctrine of immanent Divine Reason (λόγος ἐνδιάθετος) which governs his thought of the relation of the Son to the Father.
λόγος is apparently used of the Personal Christ at Hebrews 4:12 (this difficulty need not be examined here); as we hold it to be in 1 John 1:1, ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν … περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς (see for ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς on 15:27 below, and cf. Introd., p. lxi).
καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν. εἶναι πρός τινα is not a classical constr., and the meaning of πρός here is not quite certain. It is generally rendered apud, as at Mark 6:3, Mark 9:19, Mark 14:49, Luke 9:41; but Abbott (Diat. 2366) urges that πρὸς τὸν θεόν carries the sense of “having regard to God,” “looking toward God” (cf. 5:19). This sense of direction may be implied in 1 John 2:1 παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, but less probably in 1 John 1:2, τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, which provides a close parallel to the present passage. In Proverbs 8:30, Wisdom says of her relation to God, ἤμην παρʼ αὐτῷ: and in like manner at John 17:5, Jesus speaks of His pre-incarnate glory as being παρὰ σοί. It is improbable that Jn. meant to distinguish the meanings of παρὰ σοί at 17:5 and of πρὸς τὸν θεόν at 1:1. We cannot get a better rendering here than “the Word was with God.”
The imperfect ἦν is used in all three clauses of this verse, and is expressive in each case of continuous timeless existence.
καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, “the Word was God” (the constr. being similar to πνεῦμα ὁ θεός of 4:24). θεός is the predicate, and is anarthrous, as at Romans 9:5, ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεός. L reads ὁ θεός, but this would identify the Logos with the totality of divine existence, and would contradict the preceding clause.
This, the third clause of the majestic proclamation with which the Gospel opens, asserts uncompromisingly the Divinity of the Logos, His Pre-existence and Personality having been first stated; cf. 10:30, 20:28; and Php 2:62. This verse reiterates, after a fashion which we shall find Jn. to favour, what has been said already in v. 1, laying stress, however, upon the fact that the relationship with Deity implied in πρὸς τὸν θεόν was eternal; it, too, was “in the beginning.” That is to say, v. 2 is a summary statement of the three propositions laid down in v. 1, all of which were true ἐν ἀρχῇ.
For the emphatic use of οὗτος, cf. 1:15, 6:46, 7:18, 15:5.
The Creative Word (V. 3)
3. πάντα (all things severally, as distinct from ὁ κόσμος, the totality of the universe, v. 10) διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, “all things came into being (for creation is a becoming, as contrasted with the essential being of the Word) through Him.”
In the Hebrew story of creation, each successive stage is introduced by “And God said” (Genesis 1:3). The Psalmist personifies in poetical fashion this creative word: “By the word of Yahweh were the heavens made” (Psalm 33:6; cf. Psalm 147:15, Isaiah 55:11). In later Judaism, this doctrine was consolidated into prose; cf., e.g., “Thou saidst, Let heaven and earth be made, and Thy Word perfected the work” (2 Esd. 6:38; cf. Wisd. 9:1). This was a Jewish belief which Philo developed in his own way and with much variety of application, sometimes inclining to the view that the λόγος was a mere passive instrument employed by God, at other times, under Greek influence, regarding it as the cosmic principle, the formative thought of God.1
3, 4. καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. This expresses negatively what has been said positively in the previous line, a common construction in Hebrew poetry (cf. Psalm 18:36, Psalm 18:37, Psalm 18:39:9, etc). Jn. uses this device several times (e.g. 1:20, 3:16, 6:50, 1 John 1:5, 1 John 2:4). “Apart from Him nothing came into being.” The sentence excludes two false beliefs, both of which had currency, especially in Gnostic circles: (a) that matter is eternal, and (b) that angels or aeons had a share in the work of creation.
The interpretation of this passage during the first four centuries implies a period or full-stop at ἕν, whereas since Chrysostom the sentence has been generally taken as ending with ὃ γέγονεν: “apart from Him nothing came into being that did come into being.” ὃ γέγονεν, if we adopt the later view of the constr., is redundant and adds nothing to the sense But this kind of emphatic explicitness is quite in accordance with the style of Jn. It is also the case that Jn. favours ἐν with a dative at the beginning of a sentence, e.g. 13:35, 15:8, 16:26, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:3:10, 1 John 2:16, 1 John 2:19, 1 John 2:4:2, so that to begin with ἐν αὐτῷ in v. 4 would be in his manner.
The early uncials, for the most part, have no punctuation, while the later manuscripts generally put the point after γέγονεν. But the evidence of MSS. as to punctuation depends upon the interpretations of the text with which scribes were familiar, and has no independent authority. In the present passage the Old Syriac,1 Latin, and Sahidic versions, as well as the Latin Vulgate, decidedly favour the placing of the point after ἕν, the O.L. b putting this beyond doubt by inserting autem in the next clause: “quod autem factum est, in eo uita est.” The interpretation which places the point after ἕν was adopted by Catholics and Gnostics alike in the early centuries; cf. Irenæus (Hær. II. ii. 4, III. viii. 3), Hippolytus (c. Noetum, 12), Origen (in Ioann. 36, etc.), Clem. Alex. (Pæd. i. II, Strom. vi. II), and, apparently, Tertullian (adv. Prax. 21). It is difficult to resist their witness to the construction of the Greek, provided that the next sentence as read by them yields an intelligible meaning.
Harris2 defends the construction “without Him was not anything made that was made,” by citing a passage from the Stoic Chrysippus which is alike redundant in form: Fate is “the λόγος according to which all things that have been made have been made, and all things that are being made are being made, and all things that are to be made will be made.”
The Word Issuing in Life and Light (Vv. 4, 5)
4. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, “That which has come into being was, in Him, Life,” i.e. the life which was eternally in the Word, when it goes forth, issues in created life, and this is true both of (a) the physical and (b) the spiritual world. (a) Jesus Christ, the Son and the Word, is the Life (11:25, 14:6), the Living One (ὁ ζῶν, Revelation 1:17); and it is through this Life of His that all created things hold together and cohere (τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν, Colossians 1:17). (b) In the spiritual order, this is also true. The Son having life in Himself (5:26) gives life to whomsoever he wishes (οὓς θέλει ζωοποιεῖ, 5:21). Cf. 1 John 5:11, and see on 17:24. The children of God are those who are quickened by a spiritual begetting (see on v. 13). See also on 6:33.
If ἐν αὐτῷ is the true reading at 3:15 (where see note), we have another instance there of ἐν αὐτῷ being awkwardly placed in the sentence.
Presumably because of this awkward position of ἐν αὐτῷ, some Western authorities אD, many Old Latin texts, and the Old Syriac, replace ἦν by ἐστίν; interpreting, as it seems, the sentence to mean “that which has come into being in Him is life.” But this reading and rendering may safely be set aside as due to misapprehension of the meaning.
καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων. The first movement of the Divine Word at the beginning was the creation of Light (Genesis 1:3). This was the first manifestation of Life in the κόσμος, and the Psalmist speaks of the Divine Life and the Divine Light in the same breath: “With Thee is the fountain of life, and in Thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9). God is Light (1 John 1:5) as well as Life, if indeed there is any ultimate difference between these two forms of energy (see on 8:12).
In this verse, Jn. does not dwell on the thought of the Word’s Life as the Light of the κόσμος, but passes at once to the spiritual creation; the Life of the Word was, at the beginning, the Light of men. Cf. 12:46, 9:5, and see especially on 8:12 for the Hebrew origins and development of this thought, which reaches its fullest expression in the majestic claim ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου (8:12).
Philo speaks of the sun as a παραδεῖγμα of the Divine Word (de somn. i. 15); but he does not, so far as I have noticed, connect life and light explicitly.
5. τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει. The guiding thought is still the story of the creation of light, which dissipated the darkness of chaos. But this is a story which ever repeats itself in the spiritual world; Jn. does not say “the Light shone, ” but “the Light shines.” In 1 John 2:8 he applies the thought directly to the passing of spiritual darkness because of the shining of Christ, the true light (ἡ σκοτία παράγεται καὶ τὸ φῶς τὸ άληθινὸν ἤδη φαίνει).
καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν. καταλαμβάνειν generally means to “seize” or “apprehend,” whether physically (Numbers 21:32, Mark 9:18, [Jn.] 8:4), or intellectually (Acts 10:34, Acts 25:25, Ephesians 3:18, etc.). Thus we may translate “the darkness apprehended it not,” i.e. did not understand or appreciate it; and so the vulg. has tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt, the note of tragedy being struck at once, which appears again, vv. 10, 11 (where, however, the verb is παραλαμβάνειν); see on 3:19.
But καταλαμβάνειν often means also to “overtake” (Genesis 31:23, Exodus 15:9, Ecclus. 11:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:4); Moulton-Milligan illustrate from the papyri this use of the verb, viz. of evil “overtaking” one. This is its meaning in the only other place where it occurs in in., viz. 12:35, ἵνα μὴ σκοτία ὑμᾶς καταλάβῃ, “lest darkness overtake you.”1 Origen (with other Greek interpreters) takes κατέλαβεν in this sense here, explaining that the thought is of darkness perpetually pursuing light, and never overtaking it.2 The meaning “overtake in pursuit” readily passes into “overcome”; e.g. 2 Macc. 8:18, where it is said that God is able “to overcome those who come upon us” (τοὺς ἐρχομένους ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς … καταλαβεῖν). A classical parallel is cited by Field from Herod. i. 87, ὡς ὥρα πάντα μὲν ἄνδρα σβεννύντα τὸ πῦρ, δυναμένους δε οὐκέτι καταλαβεῖν, i.e. “when he saw … that they were unable to overcome the fire.” That this is the meaning of the verb in the present verse is supported by the fact that the thought of Christ’s rejection does not appear, and could not fitly appear, until after the statement of His historical “coming into the world” (vv. 9, 10). We have not yet come to this, and it is the spiritual interpretation of the Creation narrative that is still in view. Thus in the Hymn of Wisdom (Wis. 7:29) we have: “Night succeeds the Light, but evil does not overcome wisdom” (σοφίας δὲ οὐκ ἀντισχύει κακία). The darkness did not overcome the light at the beginning, and the light still shines. This is not the note of tragedy, but the note of triumph. Good always conquers evil. “The darkness did not overcome the light” (so R.V. marg.).
Philo’s commentary on Genesis 1:3 is in agreement with this interpretation. He says that τὸ νοητὸν φῶς is the image of θεῖος λόγος, which is the image of God. This may be called παναύγεια, “universal brightness” (cf. 8:12). On the first day of creation this light dispelled the darkness: ἐπειδὴ δὲ φῶς μὲν ἐγένετο, σκότος δὲ ὑπεξέστη καὶ ὑπεχώρησεν,3 i.e. “darkness yielded to it and retreated.” Jn. applies this thought to Christ as the Light of the world. There is never an eclipse of this Sun.
C. J. Ball suggested4 that behind κασέλαβεν lies a confusion of two Aramaic verbs, קַבּיל, “take, receive,” and אַקבּיל, “darken.” He holds that, both here and at 12:35, the original Aramaic (which he finds behind the Greek) was לא אקבליה, “obscured it not,” and that this was misread לא קבליה, “received it not.”1 This is ingenious, but, as we have seen, κατέλαβεν is good Greek for “overcome,” so that there is no need to suppose any corruption of the original text.
Explanatory Comment: John the Baptist Was Not the Light (Vv. 6-9)
A feature of the style of Jn. is his habit of pausing to comment on words which he has recorded (cf. Introd., p. xxiv). Here we have a parenthetical note to explain that the Light of which the Logos hymn sings is not John the Baptist. It has been suggested that this was inserted as necessary to combat the pretensions of some Christians who exalted the Baptist unduly (cf. Acts 18:25, Acts 19:3f.); but see on v. 20 below.
For Jn., as for Mk., the “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), began with the preaching of the Baptist. Jn. does not stay to record stories of the Birth of Jesus, as Lk. and Mt. do. He opens his Gospel with a mystical hymn about the Logos, which reminds the reader that the true beginnings of the wonderful life are lost in the timeless and eternal Life of God. But in the Gospel Jn. is to describe the historical manifestation of the Word, and this was prepared for, and introduced by, the preaching of the Baptist. Upon this Jn. dwells more fully than any other evangelist, probably because his informant, the aged son of Zebedee, was himself one of the Baptist’s disciples. For the use made by Jn. of Mk., see Introd., pp. xcvi, c; and the correspondences between Mar_1 and Joh_1 in regard to what they tell about the Baptist and his sayings are remarkable.
Mark 1:2 introduces the Baptist by quoting Malachi 3:1, “I send my messenger before my face”; Jn. introduces him as a man “sent from God.” Both Mark 1:2 and John 1:23 apply to him the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3.Mark 1:7 gives two utterances of the Baptist about Christ which reappear John 1:15, John 1:27, John 1:30. Mark 1:8 and John 1:26 both report the emphasis laid by the Baptist on his baptism being with water. And the allusions to the baptism of Jesus in John 1:33, John 1:34 are reminiscent of Mark 1:10, Mark 1:11.
6. ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος κτλ. (“There arose a man,” etc.). There is no introductory particle connecting this with v. 5. It is a sentence quite distinct from the verse of the Logos Hymn which goes before.
ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ. The Baptist made this claim for himself (3:28); cf. Malachi 3:1. Cf. 9:16, 33 for a similar use of παρὰ θεοῦ, and see on 6:45.
ὅνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάνης. For the constr. cf. 3:1 and Revelation 6:8, Revelation 9:11. Burney urges that this is a Semitic constr.,1 and represents an Aramaic or Hebrew שמו; but it is also good Greek, e.g. Ἀριστοφῶν ὅνομα αὐτῷ (Demosth. contra Zenoth. 11).
The spelling Ἰωάνης is preferred to Ἰωάννης by most modern editors, being almost universally found in B “It belongs to the series of Hellenised names which treat the an of the Hebrew termination (Ioanan) as a variable inflection” (Blass, Gram. 11).2
Jn. is prone to distinguish carefully people who have the same name, e.g. Judas (6:71, 13:2, 14:22), Mary (11:2, 19:25), Joseph (19:38); in this being more scrupulous than the Synoptists. It is, perhaps, worthy of note, therefore, that Jn. never writes “John the Baptist,” but always “John,” as if there were no other John who could be confused with him. On this has been based an argument to prove that John the son of Zebedee is, in some sense, the author (if not the actual scribe) of the Fourth Gospel; for the one person to whom it would not occur to distinguish John the Baptist from John the son of Zebedee would be John the son of Zebedee himself. On the other hand, the Synoptists only occasionally give the full description “John the Baptist,” “John” being quite sufficient in most places where the name occurs. It would not be as necessary for an evangelist writing for Christian readers at the end of the first century to say explicitly “John the Baptist,” when introducing the John who bore witness to Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, as it was for Josephus when writing for Roman readers to distinguish him as “John who is called the Baptist” (Antt. xviii, V. 2).
7. οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν. This was the characteristic feature of the Baptist’s mission, “to bear witness” to the claims of Him who was to come. The Fourth Gospel is full of the idea of “witness” (see Introd., p. xc), the words μαρτυρία, μαρτυρεῖν, being frequent in Jn., while they occur comparatively seldom in the rest of the N.T. The cognate forms μαρτύς,
μαρτύριον, are, on the other hand, not found in Jn., although they occur in the Apocalypse.
ἴνα μαρτυρήσῃ. ἴνα with a finite verb, in a telic sense, where in classical Greek we should expect an infinitive, is a common constr. in κοινή Greek, and is specially frequent in Joh_1 Burney2 held that this linguistic feature is due to the Aramaic origin of Jn., and that behind ἴνα is the particle דְּ or דִּי. But the colloquial character of Jn.’s style provides a sufficient explanation (cf. 11:50 and 18:14).
περὶ τοῦ φωτός. John Baptist says (v. 33) that it was revealed to him that Jesus was the Coming One.
ἴνα πάντες πιστεύσωσιν διʼ αὐτοῦ (“that all might believe through him,” i.e. through, or by means of, the testimony of John the Baptist). Ultimately the Baptist’s mission would affect not Israel only, but all men (πάντες). As the Divine Law is said to have come διὰ Μωυσέως (v. 17), so there is a sense in which Christian faith came διʼ Ἰωάνου. Abbott (Diat. 2302 f.) inclines to the view that αὐτοῦ refers here to Christ, αὐτός throughout the Prologue being used for the Word; but Jn. never uses the expression πιστεύειν διὰ Ἰησοῦ (see on 3:15). Jesus, for him, is the end and object of faith, rather than the medium through which it is reached (see on 1:12).
Jn. uses the verb πιστεύειν about 100 times, that is, with nine times the frequency with which it is used by the Synoptists, although the noun πίστις, common in the Synoptists, never occurs in Jn., except at 1 John 5:4.1 John 5:3 See further on v. 12.
Here πιστεύειν is used absolutely, the object of faith being understood without being expressed; cf. 1:50, 4:42, 53, 5:44, 6:64, 11:15
12:39, 14:29, 19:35, 20:8, 25.
8. ἐκεῖνος is used substantially, whether as subject or obliquely, with unusual frequency in Jn., the figures for its occurrence is the four Gospels being (according to Burney4) Mat_4, Mar_3, Luk_4, Jn. 51. Jn. uses it often to express emphasis, or to mark out clearly the person who is the main subject of the sentence, as here. It is used of Christ, 1:18, 2:21, 5:11, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 2:3:5, 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:16.
οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς. The Baptist was only ὁ λύχνος, the lamp; cf. 5:35.
ἀλλʼ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περι τοῦ φωτός. This is an elliptical constr. of which somewhat similar examples occur 9:3, 13:18, 15:25, 1 John 2:19 (Abbott, Diat. 2106 f.). The meaning is, “but he came that he might bear witness, etc. The repetition of the whole phrase ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός is thoroughly Johannine.
Burney suggests1 that here (as also at 5:7, 6:50, 9:36, 14:16) ἵνα is a mistranslation of an Aramaic relative, דְּ, “who.” The rendering then is simple, “he was not the Light, but one who was to bear witness of the Light”; but the correction is unnecessary.
9. ἦν τὸ φῶς κτλ. The constr. of the sentence has been taken in different ways, and the ambiguity was noticed as far back as the time of Origen.2
(I) The Latin, Syriac, and Coptic versions take ἐρχόμενον with ἄνθρωπον. The Light enlightens every man who comes into the world. But if this were the meaning, (a) we should expect παντὰ τὸν ἐρχόμενον rather than παντὰ ἄνθρωπον ἐρχόμενον; (b) these words are wholly redundant, for they do not add anything to “every man”; (c) the expression “coming into the world” is not used elsewhere by Joh_3 of a man being born (16:21 is no exception). This last consideration excludes also the rendering “every man, as he comes into the world,” apart from the fact that, although Wordsworth suggests it in his Ode, the idea of any special Divine enlightenment of infants is not Scriptural.
(2) It is better to take ἐρχόμενον with φῶς (so R.V.). Jn. several times uses the phrase “coming into the world” of the Advent of Christ (6:14, 11:27, 16:28, 18:37); and elsewhere (3:19, 12:46) in the Gospel Christ is spoken of as “light coming into the world.” And if we render “the Light, which lighteth every man, was coming into the world,” the constr. of ἦν with the present participle as used for the imperfect is one which appears frequently in Jn. (see on 1:28 below). ἦν … ἐρχόμενον means “was in the act of coming.”
Westcott, while retaining this meaning, endeavours to combine with it the conception of the Light having a permanent existence (ἦν, the verb used in v. 1). “There was the Light, the true Light which lighteth every man; that Light was, and yet more, that Light was coming into the world.” This seems, however, to attempt to get too much out of the words, and on our view of the whole passage the meaning is simpler.
We are still occupied with Jn.’s comment (vv. 6-9) on what the Logos Hymn has said about the Light (vv. 4, 5). The Baptist was not the perfect Light, but he came to bear witness to it; and this perfect Light was then coming into the world. When Jn. wrote the First Epistle he could say, “The true Light already shineth” (1 John 2:8), but it was only coming at the time when the Baptist’s mission began. Jesus had come into the world, indeed; but He had not yet manifested Himself as the Light.
ἀληθινόν. Christ is τὸφῶ ἀληθινόν, not to be interpreted as “the true Light” (although such a rendering is convenient), for that suggests that all other lights are misleading, which is not implied; cf. 5:35. ἀληθινός is distinguished from ἀληθής as the genuine from the true. The opposite of ἀληθινός is not necessarily false, but it is imperfect, shadowy, or unsubstantial. “The ἀληθής fulfils the promise of his lips, but the ἀληθινός the wider promise of his name. Whatever that name imports, taken in its highest, deepest, widest sense, whatever according to that he ought to be, that he is to the full” (Trench, Synonym’s of N.T.). Thus ἀληθινός here is significant. Christ is not “the true and only Light,” but rather “the perfect Light,” in whose radiance all other lights seem dim, the Sun among the stars which catch their light from Him.
There are indeed a few passages where ἀληθινὸς cannot be sharply distinguished from ἀληθής: thus ἀληθινός at 19:35 stands for the veracity of the witness, just as ἀληθής does at 21:24. Moreover, the fact that ἀληθής and its cognates are not found in the Apocalypse, while ἀληθινός occurs in it 10 times, might suggest that the choice of the one adjective rather than the other was only a point of style. In the same way, ψεύστης is used 7 times in Jn. for a liar, but the word in the Apocalypse is ψευδής.
Nevertheless the distinction between ἀληθής and ἀληθινός in Jn. is generally well marked. We have τὸ φῶς ἀληθινόν here (cf. 1 John 2:8); οἱ ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταί, 4:23; ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ἀληθινός, 6:32; ὁ μόνος ἀληθινὸς θεός, 17:3 (cf. 7:28, 1 John 5:20); ἡ ἀληθινὴ κρίσις, 8:16; ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινή, 15:1. In all these passages the meaning “genuine” or “ideal” will bear to be pressed, as also in the only place where the word occurs in the Synoptists, for τὸ ἀληθινόν of Luke 16:11 is the genuine riches. Even at 4:37, where ἀληθινός is applied to a proverb, something more is implied than veraciousness (see note in loc.).
Less clearly, but still with some plausibility, can the distinctive sense of ἀληθινός be pressed in the Apocalypse, where it is applied to God’s ways (15:3), His judgments (16:7, 19:2), His words (19:9, 21:5, 22:6), to Himself (6:10), and to Christ (3:7, 14, 19:11). See further on 17:3.
φωτίζει. This verb does not occur again in Jn., but cf. Luke 11:35, Luke 11:36.
ὂ φωτίζει παντὰ ἄνθρωπον. That the Servant of Yahweh would be a “light to the Gentiles” as well as to the Jews was the forecast of Deutero-Isaiah (42:6, 49:6); but this passage suggests a larger hope, for the Coming Light was to enlighten every man. It was this great conception upon which the early Quakers fixed, urging that to every man sufficient light was offered; and some of them called this passage “the Quaker’s text.” The Alexandrian theologians, e.g. Clement, had much to say about the active operation of the Pre-Incarnate Word upon men’s hearts; and it is interesting to observe that they did not appeal to this text, which is in fact not relevant to their thought, as it speaks only of the universal enlightenment which was shed upon mankind after the Advent of Christ.
εἰς τὸν κόσμον. The term κόσμος is used of the universe by Plato (Gorg. 508) and Aristotle (de mund. 2), Plutarch (Mor. 886 B) affirming that Pythagoras was the first to use the word thus, the order of the material world suggesting it1 This idea of a totality of the natural order is thoroughly Greek, and is without early Hebrew counterpart, עוֹלָם not being used in this meaning until the later days of Jewish literature2 In the LXX κόσμος appears in the sense of “ornament,” and occasionally to describe the ordered host of the heavenly bodies, but it is not used for “universe” until we reach the later Hellenistic books, e.g. Wisd. 11:17. Paul has κόσμος 46 times, and the Synoptists 14 times; but Jn. has it 100 times. Primarily, in the N.T. it is used of the material universe as distinct from God (cf. 21:25). But man is the chief inhabitant of the world as we know it, and thus κόσμος usually in Jn. includes the world of moral agents as well as the sum of physical forces. That is, it stands for mankind at large, as well as for the earth which is man’s habitation (6:51, 7:4, 12:19).
When, however, a term which was the product of Greek philosophy began to be used in connexion with the Hebrew doctrine of God and man, it inevitably gathered to itself the associations connected with Hebrew belief as to the Fall. To the Stoic, the κόσμος was perfect. This could not be held by a Jew. Inasmuch, then, as the Fall introduced disorder into that which in the beginning was “good” (Genesis 1:31), the term κόσμος when used of the visible order frequently carries with it a suggestion of imperfection, of evil, of estrangement from the Divine. The κόσμος cannot receive the Spirit of Truth (14:17); it hates Christ (7:7); it hates His chosen (15:19, 17:14); they are forbidden to love it (1 John 2:15). The world which is aloof from God may easily pass into an attitude of hostility to God, and the phrase “this world” (see on 8:23) calls special attention to such enmity.
According to Philo (quod deus imm. 6 and de mund 7), the κόσμος is the father of time, God being the Father of the κόσμος; a picturesque expression which brings out his view that the universe was created by God, who brought Cosmos out of Chaos, while its genesis goes back beyond the beginning of time.
A striking parallel to this verse is found in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Levi, c. 14): τὸ φῶς τοῦ νόμου τὸ δοθὲν ἐν ὑμῖν εἰς φωτισμὸν πάντος ἀνθρώπου. Charles, indeed (note in loc), holds that John 1:9 is based on this passage; but the date of the Greek versions of the Testaments is by no means certain, and there is no sufficient evidence of their existence in their present form before the time of Origen.1
There are unmistakable allusions to the verse in the Christian Apocalypse known as “The Rest of the Words of Baruch,” where Jeremiah addresses God as τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινὸν τὸ φωτίζον με (9:3). In the same section the writer calls Christ τὸ φῶς τῶν αἰώνων πάντων, ὁ ἄσβεστος λύχνος (9:13), and speaks of Him as ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐπὶ τὸ ὄρος τῶν ἐλαιῶν (9:18). See Introd., p. lxxii.
For the citation of the verse by Basilides, as quoted by Hippolytus, see Introd., p. lxxiii.
The Logos Hymn Resumed (Vv. 10, 11)
10. ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν. ἦν, as in vv. 1-4, stands for continuous existence. The Logos was immanent in the world before the Incarnation, which has not yet been mentioned in the hymn, although suggested in the evangelist’s comment in v. 9.
καὶ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, repeated from v. 3, “the world came into being through Him,” the creative Logos being personal all through the hymn.
καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. The paratactical constr. καὶ … καί is continued, as in vv. 1, 4, 5. At this point καί is used adversatively, “and yet,” the world not recognising the Word although the Word was immanent in it.
This use of καί for καίτοι (which Jn. never employs) is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel, e.g. 3:11, 5:43, 6:70, 7:28, 30, 8:26, 9:30, 10:25, 16:32. Burney1 claims this as a Semitic usage, but it occurs in classical Greek; e.g. Thucyd. v. 6. 1, Σταγείρῳ προσβάλλει … καὶ οὐκ εἷλε, and Eurip. Herakl. 508, ὁρᾶτʼ ἔμʼ ὅσπερ ἦν περίβλεπτος βροτοῖς ὀνομαστὰ πράσσων, καί μʼ ἀφείλεθʼ ἡ τύχη.
ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. Primarily, the reference is to the world’s ignorance of the Pre-Incarnate Logos, immanent continuously in nature and in man.
Pfleiderer points out the similarity of this language to what Heraclitus says about the eternal Reason: τοῦ δὲ λόγου τοῦδʼ ἐόντος αἰεὶ ἀξύνετοι γίνονται ἄνθρωποι … γινομένων γὰρ πάντων κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε ἀπείροισιν ἐοίκασι, i.e.. “men are without understanding of this Logos, although it is eternal, … although everything happens in accordance with this Logos, men seem to be ignorant (of it).”2 Heraclitus was one of those whom Justin accounted a Christian before his time, having lived μετὰ λόγου,3 and his writings were probably current in the circles where the Fourth Gospel was written. But although Jn. used similar language to Heraclitus when writing of the Word, his thought goes far beyond the impersonal Reason of the Greek sage.
Even here, the meaning of “the world knew Him not” cannot be confined to the Immanent Logos. Jn. several times comes back to the phrase, applying it to the world’s failure to recognise the Incarnate Christ; e.g. ὁ κόσμος … οὐκ ἔγνω αὐτόν (1 John 3:1); οὐκ ἔγνωσαν … ἐμέ (16:3). Cf. 14:7, 17:25, 1 Corinthians 1:21. And in the next verse (v. 11) the Incarnate Word is clearly in view, for the aorist ἦλθεν expresses a definite point of time, although the Incarnation of the Word is not explicitly asserted until v. 14.
A saying about Wisdom very similar to the thought of this verse is in Enoch xlii. 1: “Wisdom found no place where she might dwell; then a dwelling-place was assigned to her in the heavens. Wisdom came to make her dwelling among the children of men and found no dwelling-place; then Wisdom returned to her place and took her seat among the angels.” What the Jewish apocalyptist says of Wisdom, the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel repeats of the Logos.
11. εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν. This (see on 19:27) is literally “He came to His own home.” And the following words, “His own received Him not,” would well describe His rejection by His own kinsfolk and neighbours in Galilee, according to the saying that a prophet has no honour in his own country (Mark 6:4, Matthew 13:57, Luke 4:24; cf. John 4:44). But the thought of this verse is larger. The world did not know Him, did not recognise Him for what He was (v. 10). But when He came in the flesh, He came (ἦλθεν) to “the holy land” (2 Macc. 1:7, Wisd. 12:3), to the land and the people which peculiarly belonged to Yahweh and were His own (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6). In coming to Palestine, rather than to Greece, the Word of God came to His own home on earth. Israel were the chosen people; they formed, as it were, an inner circle in the world of men; they were, peculiarly, “His own.” He was “not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). “His own” intimate disciples did indeed receive him (see 13:1, 17:6, 9, 11 for οἱ ἴδιοι), but the thought here is of His own people, Israel. The Fourth Gospel is the Gospel of the Rejection; and this appears thus early in the Prologue (cf. 3:11, 5:43).
It is not said that Israel did not “know” Him, as is said of the “world” (v. 10); but Israel did not receive Him in welcome (cf. 14:3 for this shade of meaning in παραλαμβάνω). Like the Wicked Husbandmen in the parable (Mark 12:1, Matthew 21:33, Luke 20:9), Israel knew the Heir and killed Him.
Comment to Avoid Misunderstanding of V. 11 (Vv. 12, 13)
12. “His own received Him not” might suggest that no Jew welcomed Him for what He was. Accordingly (cf. Introd., p. cxlv), the evangelist notes that there were some of whom this could not be said. ὅσοι δέ κτλ. = but (δέ must be given its full adversative force), at the same time, as many as received Him (and this would include Jews as well as Greeks) were endowed with the capacity and privilege of becoming children of God. For λαμβάνειν used of “receiving” Christ, cf. 5:43, 13:20.
ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοις κτλ. This is the first appearance of a constr. which is very frequent in Jn., viz. the reinforcement of a casus pendens by a pronoun. It is a common, if inelegant, form of anacoluthon, more often met with in colloquial than in literary Greek. Jn. employs it 27 times (as against 21 occurrences in all three Synoptists). Burney suggests that this is due to the Aramaic original which he finds behind Jn., the cases pendens being a favourite Semitic idiom.1
The Jews rejected Christ; but His message was addressed to all mankind. He gave to “as many as received Him” the right to become children of God. ἐξουσία occurs again 5:27, 10:18, 17:2, 19:10, 11; it stands for authority rather than power. The privilege and right of those who “receive” Christ, i.e. those who “believe on His Name,” is that they may become τέκνα θεοῦ; but this (Jn. suggests) is not an inherent human capacity.
The conception of the faithful as “children of God” has its roots deep in Jewish thought. Israel conceived of herself as in covenant with Yahweh (see on 3:29), and the prophets speak of her as Yahweh’s wife (Hosea 1:2). “Thy sons whom thou hast borne to me” are words ascribed to Yahweh when addressing the nation (Ezekiel 16:20). Thus the Jews were accustomed to think of themselves as peculiarly the children of God (see on 8:41). But the teaching of Jesus did not encourage any such exclusive claim of Judaism. He taught the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God as having a more catholic range. To enter the kingdom of God is to become the child of God and the possessor of eternal life (for all these phrases mean the same thing; cf. 3:3f.), and the gate of the kingdom is the gate of faith in Christ. This is the message of the Fourth Gospel (20:30), and it is addressed to all who will hear it. We have here (in vv. 12, 13) a summary of the teaching of c. 3 about the New Birth and Eternal Life.
The phrase τέκνα θεοῦ is not placed either by Synoptists or by Jn. in the mouth of Jesus Himself: He is represented as speaking of υἱοὶ θεοῦ (Matthew 5:9); and this is also the title for believers generally used by Paul (Galatians 3:26), who employs the notion of adoption, as recognised by Roman law, to bring out the relation of God to the faithful.2 But τέκνα θεοῦ is thoroughly Johannine (cf. 11:52 and 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:5:2), and the phrase implies a community of life between God the Father and His children, which is described in v. 13 as due to the fact that they are “begotten” of God (cf. 3:3f.). τέκνον is from the root τεκ—,“to beget.”
The “children of God” are all who “believe in the Name” of Christ. The idea of the Fatherhood of God as extending to all mankind alike, heathen or Jewish, prior to belief in Christ, is not explicit in the Gospels (cf. Acts 17:28), however close it may be to such a pronouncement as that of the Love of God for the world at large (3:16). But for Jn., the “children” are those who “believe.”
τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ. The frequency of the verb πιστεύειν in Jn. has been already noted (1:7). Here we have to mark the form πιστεύειν εἰς … The phrase “to believe in Christ,” in Him as distinct from believing His words or being convinced of certain facts about Him, is, with one exception (Matthew 18:6), not found in the Synoptists; but in Jn. we find πιστεύειν εἰς … 35 times,1 always referring to God or Christ, except εἰς τὴν μαρτυρίαν (1 John 5:10). The phrase πιστεύειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ occurs again 2:23, 3:18 (cf. 1 John 5:13), but not in the speeches of Jesus Himself. In the O.T. the “Name” of Yahweh is often used as equivalent to His Character or Person, as He manifests Himself to men (cf. 2 Samuel 7:13, Isaiah 18:7; see on 5:43 below). It is possible that this usage of ὄνομα in the N.T. is an Aramaism. We have it several times in the expression βαπτίζειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομά τινος (cf. Matthew 28:19).2 But, whether it is Aramaic or no, to believe in “the Name” of Jesus for Jn. is to believe “in Him” as the Son of God and the Christ.
13. For οἳ … ἐγεννήθησαν, the O.L. version in b gives qui natus est, the verse being thus a reference to the Virgin Birth of Christ. Irenæus (adv. Haer. iii. xvii. 1 and xx. 2), and possibly Justin (Tryph. 61; cf. Apol. i. 32, 63 and ii. 6), bear witness to the existence of this (Western) reading. Tertullian (de carne Christi, 19) adopts it formally, adducing arguments against the common text “who were born,” which he says is an invention of the Valentinians. In recent years the reference of the verse to Christ, and the reading qui natus est, have been approved by Resch (Aussercanonische Paralleltexte, iv. 57) and by Blass (Philology of the Gospels, p. 234).3 But the MS. evidence is overwhelming for ἐγεννήθησαν, which moreover, as we shall see, is in accordance with the characteristic teaching of Jn.
The children of God are “begotten” by Him by spiritual generation, as contrasted with the ordinary process of physical generation.
οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων κτλ. It was a current doctrine in Greek physiology that the human embryo is made from the seed of the father, and the blood of the mother. Thus Wisd. 7:2, “In the womb of a mother was I moulded into flesh in the time of ten months, being compacted in blood (παγεὶς ἐν αἵματι) of the seed of man and pleasure that came with sleep.” Cf. 4 Macc. 13:20 and Philo (de opif. mundi 45). 1
The plural αἱμάτων is unexpected, but Bräckner quoted the parallel ἄλλων τραφεὶς ἀφʼ αἱμάτων (Eurip. Ion, 693). Augustine (Serm. cxxi. 4) explains αἱμάτων, “mixtis sanguinibus, masculi et feminae, commixtione carnis masculi et feminae,” which may be right; but more probably the plural is used to indicate drops of blood.
οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκός, “nor yet of the will of the flesh,” i.e. of sexual desire. θέλημα is used once or twice in the LXX in the sense of delectatio, e.g. Isaiah 62:4 and Ecclesiastes 12:1. Hippolytus (Ref. vi. 9) has the phrase ἐξ αἱμάτων καὶ ἐπιθυμίας σαρκικῆς, καθάπερ καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ, γεγεννημένος, which is apparently a reminiscence of this verse, of which at any rate it gives the meaning, identifying θέλημα with ἐπιθυμία (cf. 1 John 2:16).
The passage is also recalled by Justin (Tryph. 63), ὡς τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρωπείου σπέρματος γεγεννημένου ἀλλʼ ἐκ θελήματος θεοῦ.
οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρός, “nor yet of the will of a man,” i.e. a male, for so ἀνήρ is always used in Jn., as distinct from ἄνθρωπος.
The threefold negation emphasises the point that the “begetting” of the children of God has nothing to do with the normal begetting of children.
ἀλλʼ ἐκ θεοῦ (God being the immediate cause of the new spiritual life which begins in the believer). The metaphor of God as “begetting” children is strange to a modern ear, but it is frequent in Jn. Cf. also 1 Peter 1:3, ὁ … ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν, and see J. B. Mayor on Jam 1:18.
The verb γεννᾶν in the active voice generally means “to beget,” and is used of the father, e.g. Ἀβραὰμ ἐγέννησε τὸν Ἰσαάκ (Matthew 1:2). Sometimes this is followed by ἐκ and the mother’s name, e.g. ἐγέννησα ἐξ αὐτῆς Τωβίαν (Tobit 1:9).
γεννᾶν is also, but rarely, used of the “bearing” of children by a woman, e.g. μία μήτηρ ἐγέννησεν ἡμᾶς διδύμους (Acta Philippi, 115).
In Jn. the verb (with one exception, 1 John 5:1) is only found in the passive γεννᾶσθαι Sometimes this means “to be born,” e.g. 9:2f., 16:21, 18:37; cf. Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰησοῦς (Matthew 1:16).
But usually in Jn. γεννᾶσθαι means “to be begotten,” and the phrase “to be begotten by God” is thoroughly Johannine. Jn. does not shrink from drawing out the metaphor, e.g. πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμαρτιαν οὐ ποιεῖ, ὅτι σπέρμα οὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει (1 John 3:9). Gods σπέρμα is in the man, who is thus (the phrase occurs in the next verse, 1 John 3:10) τέκνον θεοῦ. An even closer parallel to vv. 12, 13, is πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστὶν ὁ Χριστὸς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται (1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:4), where it is again said that those who believe in Christ are “begotten of God.” Cf. also 1 John 2:29, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 5:18. This mystical language goes back to Psalm 2:7, where Yahweh says of the king of His favour, ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε. Indeed, to say that believers are “begotten of God” is only to stretch a little farther the metaphor involved in the words, “Our Father which art in heaven.” See on v. 12.
The rendering of ἐγεννήθησαν here by nati sunt in the Latin versions cannot be taken to exclude the translation “were begotten”; for in the several passages in 1 Jn. where we have the phrase γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 18), and where it must bear the meaning “begotten by God” (see especially 1 John 3:9), the Latin versions similarly have natus.
The Incarnation (V. 14)
14. καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. The repeated καὶ introducing the next three clauses should be noticed.
Here we have the climax of the Johannine doctrine of Christ as the Word. That the Son of God became man is unmistakably taught by Paul (Romans 1:3, Romans 8:3, Galatians 4:4, Php 2:7, Php 2:8): He was “manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). So, also, according to Hebrews 2:14, He partook of our flesh and blood. But the contribution of Jn. to this exalted Christology is that he expressly identifies Christ with the “Word of God,” vaguely spoken of in the Wisdom literature of the Hebrews and also in the teaching of Philo and his Greek predecessors. The Logos of philosophy is, Jn. declares, the Jesus of history (cf. v. 11); and this is now stated in terms which cannot be misunderstood. That “the Word became flesh” must have seemed a paradox to many of those who read the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel when it was first made public; but the form of the proposition is deliberate. It would have been impossible for Philo (see Introd., p. cxli).
The heresy of Docetism was always present to the mind of Jn. (while it is most plainly in view in the First Epistle); the idea of Christ as a mere phantasm, without human flesh and blood, was to him destructive of the Gospel. “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2). But it is the deceiver and the antichrist who “confess not that He is come in the flesh” (2 John 1:7). The lofty teaching of the Prologue identifies Jesus with the Word, and the explicit declaration that the Word became flesh was necessary to exclude Docetic teaching.1 A characteristic feature of the Fourth Gospel is its frequent insistence on the true humanity of Jesus. He is represented as tired and thirsty (4:6, 7; cf. 19:28). His emotion of spirit is expressed in His voice (see on 11:33). He wept (11:35). His spirit was troubled in the anticipation of His Passion (12:27, 13:21). And the emphasis laid by Jn. on His “flesh” and “blood” (6:53), as well as on the “blood and water” of the Crucifixion scene, shows that Jn. writes thus of set purpose. Cf. also 20:27. At one point (8:40) Jn. attributes to Jesus the use of the word ἄνθρωπος as applied to Himself.
ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. Here σάρξ signifies man’s nature as a whole, including his rational soul (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Thus the rendering here in the Old Syriac (although not in the Peshitta) of σάρξ by pagar,2 sc. “the Word became a body”—a rendering known to Ephraim3 and Aphrahat4—is inadequate and might mislead. The Logos did not became “a man,” but He became “man” in the fullest sense; the Divine Person assuming human nature in its completeness. To explain the exact significance of ἐγένετο in this sentence is beyond the powers of any interpreter.
καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν. This sentence has generally in modern times been understood to mean “and He pitched His tent among us,” or dwelt among us, ἡμῖν referring to those who witnessed the public ministry of Jesus, and more particularly to those who associated with Him in daily intercourse. ἐν ἡμῖν, on this rendering, would be equivalent to apud nos or inter nos, a use of ἐν with the dative which may be defended by 10:19, 11:54. A σκήνη or tent is a temporary habitation, and ἐσκήνωσεν might thus indicate the sojourn on earth for a brief season of the Eternal Word. In the N.T., however, the verb does not connote temporary sojourning in any other place where it is found.
Origen5 and Chrysostom6 understand the clause differently, For them, it is parallel to the preceding clause, “the Word became flesh,” and is another statement of the Incarnation.1 The Word took humanity as His tabernacle, ὥσπερ ὁ ναὸς δόξαν εἶχε θεοῦ κατασκηνοῦσαν ἐν αὐτῷ (Origen, l.c. 202). This would be in harmony with Paul’s great phrase ναὸς θεοῦ ἐστέ (1 Corinthians 3:16), and gives its proper force to ἐν ἡμῖν. Cf. Ecclus. 24:8 ἐν Ἰακὼβ κατασκήνωσον, as addressed to Wisdom.
In the N.T. the verb only occurs again Revelation 7:15, Revelation 12:12, Revelation 13:6 and 21:3, where it is said that in the New Jerusalem God σκηνώσει μετʼ αὐτῶν. So the prophets had foretold, e.g. κατασκηνώσω ἐν μέσῳ σου, λέγει κύριος (Zechariah 2:10); ἔσται ἡ κατασκήνωσίς μου ἐν αὐτοῖς (Ezekiel 37:27). Cf. Leviticus 26:11, Ezekiel 43:7. Such language goes back to the thought of the σκήνη or tabernacle in the desert (Exodus 25:8, Exodus 25:9), where Yahweh dwelt with Israel. The verb σκηνοῦν would always recall this to a Jew. Philo says that the sacred σκήνη was a symbol of God’s intention to send down to earth from heaven the perfection of His Divine virtue (Quis div. hœr. 23).
The language of this verse recalls Psalm 85:9, Psalm 85:10:
His salvation is nigh them that fear Him,
That glory (δόξα) may dwell (κατασκηνῶσαι) in our land:
Mercy (ἔλεος) and truth (ἀλήθεια) have met together,
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
The connexion of δόξα and the verb σκηνοῦν will presently be examined more closely.
ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ. θεᾶσθαι is never used in the N.T. of spiritual vision, while it is used 22 times of “seeing” with the bodily eyes. Cf. 1:32, 38, 4:35, 6:5, 11:45, 1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:14 (θεὸν οὐδεὶς πώποτε τεθέαται … ἡμεῖς τεθεάμεθα … ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ ἀπέσταλκεν τὸν υἱόν), and 1 John 1:1, 1 John 1:2 ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα κτλ. Neither here nor at 1 John 1:1 is there any question of a supersensuous, mystical perception of spiritual facts, in both passages the claim being that the author has “seen” with his eyes (the aorist points to a definite moment in the historic past) the manifested glory of the Incarnate Word.
The use of the first person plural when speaking of his Christian experience is characteristic of Jn., and runs all through the First Epistle (cf. 1 John 1:1, 1 John 1:3:2, 14, 1 John 1:5:15, 19, 20) He speaks not only for himself but for his fellow-believers (cf. 3:11); and in this passage for such of these (whether living or departed) as had been eye-witnesses of the public ministry of Jesus. (Cf. also 2 Peter 1:17, and see Introd., p. lx).
δόξα, δοξάζειν are favourite words with Jn. (although they are not found in the Johannine Epistles). Certain shades of meaning must be distinguished.
As in Greek authors generally, δόξα often means no more than “honour,” and δοξάζειν means “to honour greatly”; e.g. 5:41, 7:18, 8:50, 54, 9:24, 11:4, 12:43, 14:13, 15:8, 16:14, 17:1, 4, 10, 21:19 (See on 4:44). But Jn. uses these words sometimes with special reference to that δόξα which belongs to God alone, e.g. 17:5 recalls the glory of the Eternal Word. According to one interpretation (see above) of ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, δόξα here (cf. 2:11, 11:40) stands for the Divine glory exhibited in the earthly life of Jesus which was perceived by those who companied with Him, and this must in any case be part of the meaning of ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ. The crisis of this “glorification” in Jn. is the Passion (7:39, 12:16, 23) consummated in the Risen Life (13:32). See especially on 13:32.
We must, at this point, recall the later Jewish doctrine of the Shekinah or visible dwelling of Yahweh with His people. The word שְׁכִינָה, “that which dwells,” is appropriated in later Judaism to the Divine presence. When in the O.T. Yahweh is said to dwell in a place, the Targums, to avoid anthropomorphism, preferred to say that He “caused His Shekinah to dwell.” The Shekinah was the form of His manifestation, which was glorious; but the glory is distinct from the Shekinah, which is used as equivalent to the Divine Being Himself. Thus the Targum of Isaiah 60:2 is: “In thee the Shekinah of Yahweh shall dwell, and His glory shall be revealed upon thee.” Again, Leviticus 26:12, “I will walk among you and be your God,” becomes in the Targum “I will place the glory of my Shekinah among you, and my Memra shall be with you.” Or again, Isaiah 6:1, “I saw the Lord,” becomes in the Targum “I saw the glory of the Lord” (see on 12:41).1
Now by bilingual Jews the representation of Shekinah by σκήνη was natural, and when σκηνοῦν or κατασκηνοῦν is used in the later books of the LXX or the Apocalypse of the dwelling of God with men, the allusion is generally to the doctrine of the Shekinah (cf. Revelation 7:15). Accordingly, ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ also carries a probable allusion to the glory of the Shekinah which was the manifestation on earth of God Himself.2
δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός. The glory of the Word is described as “a glory as of the Only-begotten from the Father.” Neither Son nor Father has yet been mentioned, and the sentence is a parenthesis explanatory of the δόξα of the Word. We may connect παρὰ πατρός either (a) with μονογενοῦς or (b) with δόξαν.
If (a) be adopted, then we have the parallels 6:46, 7:29, 16:27, 17:8, in all of which passages Jesus says of Himself that He is παρὰ θεοῦ or the like, a phrase which means more when applied to Him thus than it means in 1:6, where John Baptist has been described as ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ, or in 9:16, 33, where the Pharisees say that Jesus was not παρὰ θεοῦ. But μονογενὴς παρά would be an unusual combination, especially in Jn., who always has ἐκ θεοῦ, not παρὰ θεοῦ, when he wishes to say “begotten of God”1 (cf. 1 John 2:29, 1 John 2:3:9, 1 John 2:4:7, 1 John 2:5:1, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:18). It is true, indeed, that the distinctions between παρά, ἀπό, and ἐκ were being gradually obliterated in the first century, and that we cannot always distinguish παρά from ἐκ (see on 6:46), but the point is that Jn. never uses παρά with γεννᾶσθαι.
(b) If we connect δόξαν with παρὰ πατρός, the meaning is “the glory such as the only Son receives from his Father.” Cf. 5:41, 44 for δόξαν παρὰ τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ. “No image but the relation of a μονογενής to a father can express the twofold character of the glory as at once derivative and on a level with its source.”2 The manifested glory of the Word was as it were the glory of the Eternal Father shared with His only Son. Cf. 8:54 ἔστιν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ δοξάζων με, where see note.
The word μονογενής is generally used of an only child (e.g. Jdg 11:34, Tob. 3:15, 6:10, 14, Luke 7:12, Luke 8:42, Luke 9:38, Hebrews 11:17), the emphasis being on μονο—rather than on γενής. Thus Plato speaks of μονογενὴς οὐρανός (Tim. 31); and Clement of Rome (§ 25) describes the legendary bird, the phænix, as μονογενές, sc. it is the only one of its kind, unique (cf. the LXX of Psalm 25:16). Some of the O.L. texts (a e q) render μονογενής here by unicus, which is the original meaning, rather than by unigenitus, which became the accepted Latin rendering so soon as controversies arose about the Person and Nature of Christ.
An only child is specially dear to its parents; and μονογενής is used to translate יָתִיד in Psalm 22:20,3 35:17, where we should expect ἀγαπητός. Conversely ἀγαπητός is used for an only son, Genesis 22:2; cf. Amos 8:10.Amos 8:1 And in every place where Jn. has μονογενής (except perhaps in this verse), viz. 1:18, 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9, we might substitute, as Kattenbusch has pointed out, ἀγαπητός for it, without affecting the sense materially.2
At this point, however, the meaning is clear. The glory of the Incarnate Word was such glory as the only Son of the Eternal Father would derive from Him and so could exhibit to the faithful.
πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. If καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα … πατρός is parenthetical, as we take it to be, then πλήρης is in apposition to λόγος at the beginning of the verse, and the construction is regular and simple. If the adj. πλήρης were always treated as declinable (as it is, e.g., Mark 8:19, Matthew 14:20, Matthew 15:37, Acts 6:3), this would be the only possible construction of the passage.
πλήρης, however, is often treated as indeclinable by scribes, in the N.T., the LXX, and the papyri;3 and it is possible, therefore, to take it in the present passage (the only place where it occurs in Jn.) as in apposition either to δόξαν or to αὐτοῦ or μονογενοῦς in the previous line. For πλήρης here D reads πλήρη, which apparently was meant by the scribe to be taken with δόξαν. Turner has shown4 that Irenæus, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and later Greek Fathers did not connect πλήρης with ὁ λόγος, but (generally) with δόξαν. And the Curetonian Syriac (Syr. sin. is deficient at this point) will not permit πλήρης to be taken with λόγος.5
On the contrary, Origen seems to favour the connexion of πλήρης with λόγος or μονογενής.6 The O.L. (followed by vulg.) has plenum in apposition with uerbum; and internal evidence seems to favour this construction, despite the authority of most Greek Fathers. For to speak of the glory of Christ as being “full of grace and truth” is not as intelligible as to speak of Christ Himself being πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας; cf. Acts 6:8, Στέφανος πλήρης χάριτος καὶ δυνάμεως, and for this constr. of πλήρης as descriptive of a man’s quality, see Acts 6:3, Acts 6:5, Acts 6:7:55, Acts 6:11:24. Further, in v. 16 the πλήρωμα from which Christians receive grace is that of Christ Himself, which shows that πλήρης here refers to Him.
The problem is one of grammar rather than of exegesis, for on any rendering grace and truth are specified as characteristic attributes of the Incarnate Word, or of His manifestation of Himself in the world. These two words χάρις and ἀλήθεια must now be examined.
The characteristically Christian word χάρις does not appear in Jn. except at 1:14, 16, 17, in the Prologue. It is never placed in the mouth of Jesus by any evangelist (except in the sense of thanks, Luke 6:32, Luke 6:34, Luke 6:17:9), and is not used at all by Mk. or Mt. In Lk. it is applied occasionally to the special favour of God to individuals (1:30, 2:40, 52), as it is several times in the LXX (e.g. Genesis 6:8). But its Christian use as grace is derived from Paul,1 who habitually employs it to designate the condescending love of God in redemption, as contrasted with the legalism of the Mosaic economy (Romans 5:21, Romans 6:14 and passim); and the influence of Paul’s terminology appears in Acts (e.g. 20:24 το εὐαγγέλιον τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ), Hebrews 10:29, 1 Peter 1:13, etc. So we have χάρις in the specially Christian sense in Barnabas, § 5, and Ignatius (Magn. 8), and thenceforth in all Christian writers. But Jn. never uses χάρις except here and vv. 16, 17, and this is an indication of the faithfulness with which the primitive Christian phraseology is preserved in the Fourth Gospel. He does not even speak of the grace of God, when he writes ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον (3:16), although what Paul meant by χάρις is behind his thought.
On the other hand, ἀλήθεια is one of the keywords of the Fourth Gospel. The question of Pilate, “What is truth?” (18:38) has received its answer. It was the purpose of Christ’s mission that He should “bear witness to the truth” (18:37; cf. 5:33). The Word of the Father which He came to proclaim is truth (17:8). He emphasises the truth of His pronouncements to His disciples (16:7) and to the multitude (8:45). He is “a man that hath told you the truth” (8:40). Truth came through Him (1:17); He is “full of truth” (1:14); He is the Truth itself (14:6). So He will send the Spirit of truth (15:26, 14:17; cf. 1 John 4:6, 1 John 5:7), who is to guide the faithful into all the truth (16:13). Christ’s disciples will “know the truth, and the truth shall make them free” (8:32); “he that doeth the truth cometh to the light” (3:21; cf. 1 John 1:6); and Christ’s prayer for His chosen is that they may be “sanctified in the truth” (17:17, 19). Every one that is of the truth hears His voice (18:38).
The word ἀλήθεια occurs 25 times in the Gospel and 20 times in the Johannine Epp., while it is only found 7 times in the Synoptists and not at all in the Apocalypse. The distribution of ἀληθής and ἀληθῶς is similar, while that of ἀληθινός (see on v. 9) is somewhat different, as it is common in the Apocalypse. These figures show that the idea of Truth is dominant with Jn.,1 and that the truth of Christ’s teachings is one of his deepest convictions. He represents Christ as claiming to teach and to be the Truth; and although the Synoptists do not dwell upon it, yet this feature of Christ’s claim appears in their account of His controversy with the Pharisees at Jerusalem during the last week of His public ministry (Mark 12:14, Matthew 22:16, Luke 20:21). “We know,” they said, “that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth”; i.e. they began by a verbal recognition of the claim that He had made for Himself, a claim directly recorded by Jn. alone. While then, the emphasis laid in the Fourth Gospel upon the truth of Christ’s teaching is partly due to the circumstances in which the book was produced, and the desire of Jn. to assure his readers not only of the spiritual beauty but also of the solid foundations of Christian doctrine, we need not doubt that it gives a representation faithful to historical fact, when it describes Jesus as Himself claiming to be the Ambassador and Revealer of the Truth. In the Galilæan discourses we should not expect to find this topic prominently brought forward, and the Synoptists are mainly occupied with Galilee. But when they bring Jesus to the critical and intellectual society of Jerusalem, they indicate that His claims to the possession of absolute truth had been noticed by those who wished to disparage and controvert His teaching.
Various explanations have been offered of the combination “grace and truth” as the two pre-eminent attributes of the Incarnate Logos. As we have seen, grace is what Jn. prefers to describe as love (God’s love descending on men), and truth brings light (cf. Psalm 43:3)); accordingly some exegetes refer back to v. 4, where the Divine life issues in light. But even if we equate χάρις with ἀγάπη, we cannot equate it with ζωή; and further Jn. does not represent ἀλήθεια as issuing from χάρις. Rather are χάρις and ἀλήθεια co-ordinate.
The combination is found again in v. 17, where grace and truth, which came through Christ, are contrasted with the Law, which was given through Moses. In the O.T. χάρις and ἀλήθεια are not explicitly combined, but ἔλεος and ἀλήθεια occur often in combination as attributes of Yahweh (Psalm 40:11 89:14; cf. Exodus 34:6), and in Psalm 61:7 as attributes of the Messianic King. As we have seen above (p. 21), the meeting of ἔλεος and ἀλήθεια is associated in Psalm 85:9, Psalm 85:10 with the dwelling (κατασκηνῶσαι) in the Holy Land of the Divine δόξα. And it is to this passage in the Psalter, more than to any other passage in the O.T., that the words and thoughts of John 1:14 are akin. The idea of the Divine compassion (ἔλεος), of which the O.T. is full, is enlarged and enriched in the N.T. by the idea of Divine grace (χάρις).1
The Baptist’s Witness to the Pre-Mundane Existence of the Word (V. 15)
15. The verse is parenthetical, interpolating at this point the Baptist’s witness to the pre-existence of Christ, which has been implied in v. 14.
μαρτυρεῖ, the historic present. What John said is, and remains, a witness to the pre-mundane dignity of Christ.
καὶ κέκραγεν, “and he hath cried aloud”; his voice was still sounding when the Fourth Gospel was written. For κράζειν, see on 7:28. א*D om. λέγων after κέκραγεν.
οὗτος. See on 1:2.
οὗτος ἦν ὃν εἶπον, “this was He of whom I spake”; cf. 8:27, 10:35 for the constr. ὃν εἶπον. At v. 30 we have the more usual ὑπὲρ οὗ εἶπον. The awkwardness of the constr. is responsible for variant readings. ὁ εἰπών is read by אaB*C*, but this is impossible; ὃν εἶπον is found in אcbAB3DLΘ, and must be accepted despite the inferiority of its attestation.2
ὃν εἶπον. It would seem from all four Gospels that the Baptist proclaimed “the Coming One” (ὁ ἐρχόμενος) before he had identified Him with Jesus. The terms of John’s proclamation are repeated in v. 30, almost verbally, and must be placed beside the Synoptic forms. We have seen on v. 6 above that the correspondences between Jn. and Mk. as to the Baptist’s witness are very close;3 and it is clear that at this point ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν is intended by Jn. to express what Mk. (and also Mt., Lk.) meant by ἰσχυρότερός μου (see also on v. 27). Thus ἔμπροσθεν does not indicate priority in time as at 3:28 (that is brought out in the next clause), but in dignity, as at Genesis 48:20, where it is said that Jacob made Ephraim ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Μανασσῆ. “He that comes after me has come-to-be before me” (cf. 6:25 for a like use of γέγονε).
ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. This is a Johannine addition to the Synoptic proclamation of the Baptist. It has been rendered in two different ways. (a) To render πρῶτός μου as “my Chief,” “my Superior,” is defensible, and Abbott (Diat. 2665) cites some authorities for a similar use of πρῶτος. But “He was my Chief” would be a tame addition to the great saying, “He that cometh after me is preferred before me.” (b) The usual interpretation treats πρῶτος as equivalent to πρότερος, “He was before me,” sc. in His pre-Incarnate life, although He was born into the world six months after the Baptist. The verb ἦν favours this (cf. 8:58 and vv. 1, 2, 4, 10 above). πρῶτός μου, then, is parallel to πρῶτον ὑμῶν at 15:18, in both cases πρῶτος meaning anterior. This use of a superlative for a comparative may be supported by classical examples, e.g. Xenophon, Mem. 1. ii. 46 δεινότατος σαυτοῦ ταῦτα ἦσθα, and we may compare Justin, Apol. i. 12, where οὗ βασιλικώτατον καὶ δικαιότατον … οὐδένα οἴδαμεν means “than whom we know no one more regal and just.” On this rendering of πρῶτος “because He was before me,” Jn. ascribes to the Baptist a knowledge of Christ’s Pre-existence, which it is improbable that he had realised. But it is quite in the manner of in. to attribute to the Baptist that fuller understanding of Christ’s Person which was not appreciated even by the apostles until after His Resurrection (see on v. 29).
Explanation of V. 14: Christ the Giver of Grace (Vv. 16, 17)
16. ὅτι … ὅτι on introduces vv. 16, 17, v. 16 being explanatory of v. 14, and v. 17 elucidating v. 16 further. ὅτι is here read by אBC*DL 33, and must be preferred to the rec. καὶ (AWΘ), which is probably due to scribes not understanding that v. 15 is a parenthesis.
ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ κτλ. The Incarnate Word is indeed “full” of grace and truth, for (ὅτι) out of His “fulness” we have all received. Stephen is described (Acts 6:8) as πλήρης χάριτος as well as his Master, although in a lesser degree; but he was only one of many disciples of whom this might be said.
ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν, “we, all of us,” ἡμεῖς being prefixed for emphasis, i.e. all Christian disciples. The subject of ἐλάβομεν is wider than that of ἐθεασάμεθα in v. 14, where the thought is of contemporary witnesses of the public ministry of Jesus. It is, however, not only they who receive of His fulness, but every true believer.
πλήρωμα1 does not occur again in Jn., but is used in the same way of the “fulness” of Christ at Ephesians 4:13, Colossians 1:19. The thought of Ephesians 1:23 that the Church is His πλήρωμα is a different one; cf. also Romans 15:29. See p. cxxxvii.
καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος. ἀντί does not appear again in Jn.; it is a preposition which was going out of use in the first century.
Chrysostom understands the sentence to mean that Christians have received the higher χάρις of Christ in exchange for the χάρις of the law, “for even the things of the law were of grace.” If this were the meaning intended, viz. that the lesser favour were replaced by the greater, there is a parallel to the thought in Philo, who says that God always limits His first favours (τὰς πρώτας χάριτας), and then bestows others in their stead (ἀεὶ νέας ἀντὶ παλαιοτέρων, de post. Caini, 43). But the point of v. 17 is that χάρις did not come through the Mosaic law, the word being explicitly confined to the grace of Christ (see on v. 14).
A better suggestion is that of J. A. Robinson,2 viz. that ἀντί implies correspondence rather than substitution here, and that the idea is that the χάρις which the Christian receives corresponds to the source of the χάρις in Christ.3
17. The paratactic construction (see p. lxxix) is unmistakable; we should expect ὁ νόμος μὲν … ἡ χάρις δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια κτλ.
In v. 16 the evangelist exults in the “grace for grace,” i.e. the grace after grace, which all believers have received in Christ. This is, indeed, in marked contrast with the spiritual condition of those who were “under the law,” as Paul would have expressed it, for it is pre-eminently through Christ that “grace” comes into play. χάρις is never spoken of in the LXX as a privilege of the Jew, and the contrast between law and grace is a master-thought of Paul (Romans 4:16, Romans 4:6:14, Romans 4:15, Galatians 5:4). Here it is explicit; it had become a Christian commonplace by the time that the Prologue came to be written, but Jn. never returns to it in the body of his Gospel.
The contrast is between νόμος and χάρις, as in Paul, but καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια was added by Jn. after χάρις, the two having been combined in v. 14. The thought of the freedom which truth brings appears again at 8:32, and ἀλήθεια is very apposite here. Its addition to χάρις is Jn.’s contribution to Paul’s contrast of law and grace. It is not that the Mosaic law was not true, as far as it went; but that the truth of Christ emancipates the believer from the bondage of the law.
That the law was given through Moses is repeated 7:19 (cf. 6:32); but the grace and the truth (ἡ ἀλήθεια; cf. 14:6) came through Jesus Christ. Moses was only the mediator through whom God gave the law; but Christ is Himself the source of grace and truth.
The full historical name “Jesus Christ” appears here for the first time in Jn. It was not used by the contemporaries of Jesus in His public ministry, and is only found in the Synoptists Mark 1:1, Matthew 1:1. It appears again John 17:3, and also 1 John 1:3, 1 John 2:1, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:2, 1 John 5:20. In the Acts it occurs 2:38, 3:6, 4:10, 10:36, 16:18, five times in the Apocalypse, and often in Paul (see Introd., p. cxxxvi).
The Logos Hymn Concluded: The Logos the Revealer of God (V. 18)
18. θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε. That God is invisible to the bodily eye was a fundamental principle of Judaism (Exodus 33:20, Deuteronomy 4:12). The Son of Sirach asks, τίς ἑόρακεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐκδιηγήσεται; (Ecclus. 43:31), to which Jn. supplies the answer here (cf. ἐξηγήσατο at the end of the verse). Philo, as a good Jew, has the same doctrine. God is ἀόρατος (de post. Caini, 5), even though Moses in a sense may be called θεόπτης (de mut. nom. 2), and the name “Israel” means uir uidens deum (see on 1:51 below).1 ἀόρατος is applied to God in like manner, Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:17.1 Timothy 1:2The doctrine that God is invisible is not, indeed, peculiar to Hebrew thought; cf. the verse from the Orphic literature quoted by Clement Alex. (Strom. v. 12):
οὐδέ τις αὐτὸν
εἰσοράᾳ θνητῶν, αὐτὸς δέ γε πάντας ὁρᾶται.
μονογενής, Θεός ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πάτρος,
But we incline to a Hebrew origin for the Prologue, rather than a Greek.
Jn. is specially insistent on the doctrine that God is invisible. Cf. 5:37, οὔτε εἶδος αὐτοῦ ἑωράκατε, and (a passage closely parallel to 1:18) 6:46, οὐχ ὅτι τὸν πατέρα ἑώρακέν τις, εἰ μὴ ὁ ὢν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ. οὗτος ἑώρακεν τὸν πατέρα. See note on 14:7, and cf. 1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:20.
In the Greek Bible πώποτε always occurs with a negative. Jn. has it again 5:37, 6:35, 8:33, 1 John 4:12; cf. also Luke 19:30.
μονογενὴς θεός. This is the reading of אBC*L 33 (the best of the cursives), Peshitta, Clem. Alex., Origen, Epiphanius, etc., while the rec. ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός is found in all other uncials (D is lacking from v. 16 to 3:26) and cursives, the Latin vss. and Syr. cur. (Syr. sin. is lacking here) Chrysostom and the Latin Fathers generally. An exhaustive examination of the textual evidence was made by Hort,1 and his conclusion that the true reading is μονογενὴς θεός has been generally accepted. There can be no doubt that the evidence of MSS., versions, and Fathers is overwhelmingly on this side.
μονογενὴς occurs again in Jn. only at 1:14, 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9, and in the last three instances in connexion with υἱός, so that the tendency of scribes would be to replace the more difficult θεός here by the more familiar υἱός, as they have done; while there would be no temptation to replace υἱός by θεός. μονογενὴς θεός2 was an expression adopted by Arius and Eunomius as freely as by the orthodox Catholics, so that its occurrence in a Gospel text would hardly have been used for polemical purposes by either party. It is an expression unfamiliar to the modern ear, and is therefore hard of acceptance by any to whom the cadence “only begotten Son” seems inevitable. However, it is probable—although the patristic testimony does not altogether favour this view—that μονογενής is not to be taken as an adjective qualifying θεός, but that μονογενής, θεός, ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός are three distinct designations of Him who is the Exegete or Interpreter of the Father (cf. Abbott, Diat. 1938).
That the Word is θεός (not ὁ θεός) has already been stated without qualification in v. 1. In v. 14 His glory is said to be like the glory which a μονογενής. receives from his father, which prepares the way for giving Him the title of μονογενής. This title suggests that relation of Christ to God, as the Son to the Father, which has not yet been mentioned, but which is prominent in the Fourth Gospel. And, finally (as is also suggested by μονογενής, see on v. 14 above), this relation is one of eternal love. The Word may be described as ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός.
We translate, therefore:
“God hath no man seen at any time:
The Only-Begotten, who is God, who dwells in the Father’s bosom,
This is He who revealed God.”
θεὸν οὐδεὶς κτλ. Jn. generally begins such a sentence with οὐδείς but here θεόν is put first for special emphasis; cf. 3:32, 13:28, 15:13, 16:22, where similarly οὐδείς is not put in the forefront.
εἰς τὸν κόλπον. “The wife of one’s bosom” is a phrase, used in many languages, for “beloved wife.” Cf. Numbers 11:12, Deuteronomy 13:6. The metaphor is even applied to friendship between man and man; e.g. Cicero (ad Fam. Ep. xvi. 4, 3), “Cicero meus quid aget? iste uero sit in sinu semper et complexu meo,” and Plutarch, Cato minor, 33 fin., Γαβίνιον Αὖλον, ἐκ τῶν Πομπηΐου κόλπων ἄνθρωπον.
Hence ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός expresses the intimate relationship of love between the Son and the Father; the Word shares in the secrets of Deity. ὤν stands for eternal being (cf. 8:58 and Revelation 1:4); it is the relation between Son and Father prior to the Incarnation, that is in the writer’s thought.
εἰς τὸν κόλπον, without a verb of motion, occurs elsewhere neither in the Greek Bible nor in Greek literature generally (Abbott, Diat. 2712), the more usual constr. being ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ (as at 13:23, which does not, however, help us). It is possible that εἰς is used here in the same sense as ἐν (cf. 19:13), as it often is in Mk.;1 on the other hand, ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός recalls ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν (v. 1), where πρός may carry a sense of direction (see note in loc.).
Ignatius has a phrase which may be reminiscent of v. 18, viz. Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν τὸν ἀφʼ ἑνὸς πατρὸς προελθόντα καὶ εἰς ἕνα ὄντα καὶ χωρήσαντα (Magn. 7); see on 13:3.
For ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πάτρος, Harris2 appositely quotes Spenser’s Hymn to Heavenly Beauty:
“There in His bosome Sapience doth sit,
the soueraine dearling of the Deitie,”
where Spenser seemingly identifies the σοφία of the Sapiential Books of the O.T. with the λόγος of the N.T.
ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. For ἐκεῖνος, see on v. 8; here it is very emphatic: “It is He who interpreted (the Father).” The object of ἐξηγήσατο is not stated, but it is not doubtful. It was God as Father that He who was “in the bosom of the Father” revealed to men. The aorist indicates a particular period in time, i.e. that of the life of Christ on earth.
ἐξηγεῖσθαι is used elsewhere in the N.T. by Lk. alone (Luke 24:35, Acts 10:8, Acts 10:15:12, Acts 10:14, Acts 10:21:19), and in the sense of “to rehearse,” for the benefit of others, words or incidents of sacred significance. It is the verb technically used in Greek literature of a declaration or exposition of Divine mysteries (see Wetstein for many examples). Thus, in Job 28:27 it is said that God “declared” (ἐξηγήσατο) wisdom, which was otherwise hidden from man; and the official interpreters of dreams in Genesis 41:8, Genesis 41:24 are called ἐξηγηταί.
Here we have the climax of the Prologue. The significance of the doctrine of the Logos is expressed in two words, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο, “It is He who interpreted the Father.” In v. 17 it has been affirmed that “the truth came through Jesus Christ,” and the highest form of truth is the knowledge of God. This He declared with a precision which could only be exhibited by One whose dwelling was “in the bosom of the Father.” “What He hath seen and heard, of that He beareth witness” (3:32). Cf. Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22.
The last words of the Prologue (v. 18) set out briefly the theme of the Gospel which is to follow. It is the ἐξήγησις or Exhibition to the world of God in Christ.1
PART I. (1:19-4:54 AND 6)
The Baptist’s Witness as to the Coming One (1:19-28)
19. This is the beginning of the Gospel, as distinct from the Prologue, and it opens, as Mk. does, with the witness of John the Baptist, differing, however, from Mk. in that the Baptism of Jesus is already over, reference being made to it at vv. 32, 33.
The indications of time in Song of Solomon 1:2 are remarkable and precise. If the incident described vv. 19-28 is dated Day i., then Day ii. (ἐπαύριον) is taken up with vv. 29-34. Again, Day iii extends from v. 35 (ἐπαύριον) to v. 39. Then, if we read πρωΐ for πρῶτον (see note in loc.) at v. 41, the incident of vv. 40-42 belongs to Day iv. Day v. extends from v. 43 (ἐπαύριον) to the end of the chapter. Nothing is told of Day vi., but Day vii. (τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ) is the day of the Marriage at Cana (see further on 2:1). That is, the Gospel opens with the detailed report of a momentous week.
καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν κτλ. “Now the witness of John is this …,” αὕτη being the predicate of identification, and καί referring back to v. 7 or v. 15, where John’s witness has been mentioned. We have now a threefold testimony of John, given on three consecutive days (vv. 19, 29, 35), the first being the announcement of the Coming One, the second the designation of Jesus as He who was to come, and the third having as its consequence the following of Jesus by two of John’s disciples. The particularity of detail points to the story coming ultimately from an eye-witness, probably from John the son of Zebedee, whose reminiscences lie behind the Fourth Gospel (see on vv. 35, 40). For the idea of μαρτυρία in Jn., cf. Introd., p. xci, and see on v. 7.
ὅτε ἀπέστειλαν πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι κτλ. So BC* 33, but אC3LΔW om. πρὸς αὐτόν. AΘ fam. 13 add πρ. αὐτόν after Λευείτας.
John the Baptist was now carrying on his ministry, and his work had aroused intense interest (Luke 3:15). It was natural that the Sanhedrim (see on 7:32) should send representatives to inquire into his purpose and personal claims. John the Baptist’s father being a priest, his activities would be of special interest to the whole priestly order. Accordingly the authorities at Jerusalem sent “priests and Levites,” a combination that does not occur again in the N.T. Levites are mentioned elsewhere only at Luke 10:32, Acts 4:36; and Jn. does not employ the term ἱερεύς again, although he often has ἀρχιερεύς.
οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι. The use of this term in Jn. is remarkable. Except in the phrase, “the King of the Jews,” the Synoptists only use the word Ἰουδαῖος five times (Matthew 28:15, Mark 1:5, Mark 7:3, Luke 7:3, Luke 23:51), while it occurs more than 70 times in Jn. When Jn. refers to the social or religious customs of “the Jews” (e.g. 2:6, 13, 4:9, 5:1, 6:4, 7:2, 11:55, 19:40, 42), he does not exclude Galilæans, who were at one in religion and habits of life with the inhabitants of Judæa. But he generally means by “the Jews,” the people of Judæa and particularly of Jerusalem, the scene of so large a part of his narrative. The Fourth Gospel is pre-eminently the story of the rejection of Jesus by these “Jews,” who were deeply imbued with national sentiment, intensely conservative in religious matters, bigoted and intolerant in their pride of race (cf. 5:10). Their popular leaders were the Pharisees, and we find from v. 24 that the commission of inquiry about John the Baptist’s doings had been sent by them. In v. 19 οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι are not to be distinguished from οἱ Φαρισαῖοι of v. 24. It is the “Jews” and the “Pharisees” who are represented throughout the Fourth Gospel as especially the opponents of Jesus and His claims.
In one passage (6:41, 52), indeed, objectors who appear from the context to have been Galilæans are explicitly called “the Jews,” perhaps because they represented the Jewish party of hostility; but see note in loc. In the present verse, there is no doubt that οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι are the leaders of religious thought in Jerusalem.
ἐξ Ἱεροσολύμων. The Hebrew ירושׁלם is transliterated Ἱερουσαλήμ in the LXX, whence we have “Jerusalem.” This primitive form of the name is not found in Mt. (except 23:37), Mk., or Jn., while it is nearly always used by Lk., and always in the Apocalypse (3:12, 21:2, 10, of the New Jerusalem).
The Hellenised form Ἱεροσόλυμα came into vogue about 100 b.c., and is the form usually employed in the Books of the Maccabees (cf. 2 Macc. 3:9) and in Josephus. It is generally treated as a neuter plural, but in Matthew 2:3 and Tob. 14:4 it appears as a feminine singular, perhaps being taken to represent “the sacred Solyma.”1 This is the form (Ἱεροσόλυμα, as a neuter plural) which is always used in Jn., as well as in Mt. and Mk. See further on 2:23.
ἵνα ἐρωτήσωσιν αὐτόν, “that they should interrogate him.” They asked him, Σὺ τίς εἶ; “Who are you?” not meaning thereby to ask him his name or parentage, for that his father was Zacharias the priest must have been well known to the authorities. But they meant to ask him who he claimed to be, and he understood their meaning, for he disclaimed at once any pretence of being the Christ.2
For the answer given by Jesus to the same question, Σὺ τίς εἶ; see 8:25.
The pronoun σύ is used with extraordinary frequency in Jn., his tendency being to lay stress on personality (cf. Abbott, Diat. 1726, 2402).
20. καὶ ὡμολόγησεν καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσατο καὶ ὡμολόγησεν, a good example of parataxis, or the habit of using co-ordinate sentences conjoined by καί, which is so marked a feature of Jn.’s style. See above on v. 10.
The alternation of affirmative and negative statements, so as to make explicit what is meant, is also thoroughly Johannine; cf. 1 John 1:5, 1 John 1:2:4, 27. See above on v. 3.
With “confessed and denied not,” cf. Josephus, Antt. VI. vii. 4, Σαοῦλος δὲ ἀδικεῖν ὡμολόγει καὶ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἠρνεῖτο.
Jn. has ὁμολογεῖν again 9:22, 12:42, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 1:2:23, 1 John 1:4:2, 15.
John the Baptist is bold and direct in his reply to them, saying ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμὶ ὁ χριστός, ἐγώ being emphatic, “I am not the Christ,” the form of his answer suggesting that they might have to reckon with the Christ, nevertheless. Lk. (3:15) tells in like manner of John’s disclaimer, which is mentioned again 3:28 below (cf. also Acts 13:25).
ἐγὼ οὐκ εἰμί. So אABC*LW 33; rec. has οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐγώ (C3Θ). In c. 1, the Baptist’s use of ἐγώ is a feature of the narrative (vv. 23, 26, 27, 30, 31, 33), his distinctive ministry being thus brought into clear view.
Jn. dwells with special emphasis on the acceptance by John the Baptist of a ministry quite subordinate to that of Jesus (cf. 3:28-30, 5:33f., 10:41). Disciples of the Baptist had been found by Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7); and there is some evidence that by the end of the first century a Baptist community was prominent there, whose members offered allegiance to their founder rather than to Christ. As late as the middle of the third century, the Clementine Recognitions mention such a sect explicitly: “ex discipulis Johannis qui … magistrum suum ueluti Christum praedicarunt” (i. § 54 and § 60).1 The necessity of refuting such claims made for the Baptist in Ephesus and its neighbourhood sufficiently explains the importance which the Fourth Gospel attaches to John the Baptist’s confession, “I am not the Christ.”
21. καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτόν, Τί οὖν; The argumentative τί οὖν; quid ergo? appears in Romans 6:15, Romans 11:7.
The variants are puzzling. B has σὺ οὖν τί; which can hardly be right; אL om. σύ; C* 33 insert σύ before Ἠλείας; while AC3ΓΔΘ with the Latin vss. have Ἠλείας εἶ σύ. Perhaps σύ has been interpolated from the next clause; it is not necessary for the sense. We omit it, with Tischendorf, accordingly.
Ἠλείας εἶ; There was a general belief that Elijah would return to earth to prepare the way of the Messiah. This was founded on Malachi 4:5. In Mark 9:11 it is mentioned, as commonly recognised, that “Elijah must first come” (cf. Mark 6:15, Mark 8:28 and parallels). His mission was to be the establishment of order (Mark 9:12), as is also explained in the Mishna.1 Justin quotes (Tryph. 8) Jewish doctrine to the effect that Messiah was to be hidden until pointed out and anointed by Elijah.
In a sense, John the Baptist was the Elijah of Jewish expectation, and so Jesus declared (Matthew 11:14; cf. Luke 1:17), but in the sense in which the Jewish emissaries put the question, “Art thou Elijah?” the true answer was No; for, while the Baptist fulfilled the preliminary ministry of which Malachi had spoken, he was not Elijah returned to earth in bodily form.2
ὁ προφήτης εἶ σύ; This was another alternative. The Jews held that not only Elijah, but others of the great prophets, would return before Messiah’s appearance. Cf. 2 Ezra 2:17, “For thy help will I send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah,” a passage which may be pre-Christian. One of the rumours about Jesus during His Galilæan ministry was that He was “Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14; cf. Mark 8:28). See 9:17 below. But more specific than this expectation of the return of one of the older prophets was the expectation of one who was pre-eminently “the prophet,” whose coming was looked for on the ground of Deuteronomy 18:15. This idea is not in the Synoptists, but appears three times in Jn. (1:21, 6:14, 7:40). Christian exegesis from the beginning (Acts 3:22, Acts 7:37) found the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 18:15 in the Christ; but pre-Christian, i.e. Jewish, comment distinguished “the prophet like unto Moses” from the Messiah, as is clear from the present passage and from 7:40; see on 6:31. To the question, “Art thou the prophet?” the only answer was No, for the Jews were mistaken in distinguishing ὁ προφήτης ὁ ἐρχόμενος from the Christ, whose herald John was.
22. εἶπαν οὖν κτλ., “And so they said to him, Who are you?” οὖν is a favourite connecting particle in the Fourth Gospel, seldom expressing logical sequence, but generally historical transition only (as in Homer). It occurs 195 times, and is used as εὐθύς is used in Mar_1 In a few passages Jn. places it in the mouth of Jesus, indicating logical consequence, e.g. 6:62, 12:50, 13:14, 16:22. It does not occur in 1 Jn. at all.
ἳνα ἀπόκρισιν κτλ. The constr. is elliptical, as at 9:36, where see note. ἀπόκρισις occurs again 19:9.
23. ἔφη, Ἐγὼ φωνὴ κτλ. The Synoptists (Mark 1:3, Matthew 3:3, Luke 3:4) apply the words of Isaiah 40:3 to the Baptist and his mission; but Jn. represents him as applying the text to himself2 when answering the interrogation of the Jews. The source of the citation, viz. the prophecy of Isaiah, is explicitly given in all four Gospels.
The Synoptists quote from the LXX, but Jn. seems to reproduce a citation made memoriter from the Hebrew. Instead of ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, he has εὐθύνατε, from the second clause of Isaiah 40:3, where the LXX has εὐθείας ποιεῖτε.3
Theologians, both Eastern and Western, have noted the contrast between φωνή and λόγος. John “was the Voice, but not the Word” (Ephraim, Epiphany Hymns, i. 9). So also Augustine (serm. 293, 3): “Johannes uox ad tempus, Christus uerbum in principio aeternum.” Cf. Origen, Comm. (ed. Brooke, ii. 233).
24. The rec. text (so NWΘ) inserts οἱ before ἀπεσταλμένοι, i.e. “And certain had been sent from among the Pharisees,” as distinct from the questioners of v. 19. But οἱ is omitted by א*A*BC*L; and we must render “And they,” i.e. the priests and Levites of v. 19, “had been sent from the Pharisees.” And, in fact, v. 25 shows that the argument is carried on from v. 21.
The Pharisees (mentioned again 4:1, 7:45, 8:13, 9:13, 11:46, 12:19, 42) were the true representatives of the old Jewish spirit (see on v. 19). Strictly conservative, they were intolerant of all innovation, whether of doctrine or ritual, and the baptizing ministry of John aroused their suspicions. See on 7:32.
25. τί οὖν βαπτίζεις; Hitherto, no hint has been given that the ministry of John the herald was one of baptism. It is assumed that all readers of the Gospel will know that. The question, “Why are you baptizing?” is put to him by the Pharisees of the deputation from Jerusalem, who were the conservative guardians of orthodox practice.
The baptism of proselytes from heathenism was a recognised, if not a universal, practice in Jewry at this time. But why should Jews be baptized? And what authority had John to exercise this ministry? Baptism, that is a symbolic rite of purification, would indeed be a token of the approach of the Messianic kingdom; “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean” (Ezekiel 36:25) were prophetic words (cf. Zechariah 13:1). But John had admitted that he was not Messiah; he was not even Elijah or “the prophet” (v. 21). His claim to be the Voice in the wilderness of Isaiah 40:3 did not satisfy the Pharisees as to his authority for exercising so novel and irregular a ministry as that of baptizing Jews seemed to be.
26. The attitude of the Baptist to Jesus is explained more clearly in vv. 25-34 than it is in the Synoptists, whose source of knowledge about him was tradition and not personal acquaintance. This is what we should expect if the ultimate author of the Fourth Gospel were John the son of Zebedee, for he seems to have been one of the Baptist’s disciples (see on v. 35). Jn. does not narrate the Baptism of Jesus directly, but what he tells is consistent with the Marcan story.
We have, first, the Proclamation of the Coming One (Mark 1:7, Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16), to which reference is made several times in this chapter. But when the proclamation was first made, the Baptist did not know (except in Mt.’s account; see on v. 31) that Jesus was the Predestined One for whose Advent he looked. Both in the Synoptists and in Jn. is the contrast drawn out between baptism ἐν ὕδατι (which was all that John offered) and baptism ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ (which was to be the work of the Christ). When Jesus presented Himself for baptism, the Baptist noticed a dove alighting on His head (v. 32); and as he looked he became conscious that this was the sign of the Spirit, and that Jesus was the expected One who should baptize ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ. All this is now to be set out in detail.
ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰωάνης λέγων. In Jn. we nearly always have the constr. ἀπεκρίθη καὶ εἶπεν (see on v. 50 below), but here and at 12:23 ἀπεκρ. λέγων seems to be the true reading.
The Baptist had been asked, “Why do you baptize?” What authority have you? (v. 25). He gives no direct answer; but before he speaks of Him whose herald he was, he admits that he did baptize, but only “with water.” ἐγὼ βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι. ἐγώ is emphatic: “Yes, I baptize, I administer a symbolic rite of purification, of cleansing with water.” The words are in all the Synoptic accounts of the Proclamation, where the contrast with the baptism with the Holy Spirit (v. 33) immediately follows (Mark 1:8 and parallels). Here, at v. 26, ἐγὼ βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι is only a reiteration of the claim for himself which he was accustomed to make as he predicted the Coming of a Greater One (see on v. 33).
μέσος ὑμῦν. The rec. text (so NΘ) inserts δέ after μέσος, but om. אBC*LTb. It is not required by the sense. A new sentence begins with μέσος, in Johannine style without any connecting particle. We should have expected ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, but Jn. never uses this constr.; cf. 19:18 μέσον δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν, and see on :3, 9.
στήκει is read by BLTb, and א has ἐστήκει: the rec. with ACΔWNΘ gives the more usual ἕστηκεν. But στήκει, “standeth up” or “standeth fast,” is more dramatic, and well attested.
μέσος ὑμῶν στήκει. Apparently Jesus was actually present on this occasion, which is subsequent to His Baptism, as appears from the fact that the Baptist now knows Him for what He is, although the questioners did not: ὃν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε, ὑμεῖς being emphatic. Perhaps the Baptist’s statement that the Coming One was even in their midst was treated as of no serious importance; there is no record, at any rate, of his being further questioned as to what he meant, or to which person of the company his words were applicable.
οἴδατε. εἰδέναι is a favourite verb with Jn., occurring three times as often in the Fourth Gospel as in the Synoptists. It is not easy to distinguish it in meaning from γινώσκειν (see on 1:48), although Westcott (on John 2:24) has made a subtle analysis of the two verbs. Probably we might say that γινώσκειν generally stands for relative, acquired knowledge, gradually perfected, while εἰδέναι indicates a complete and absolute knowledge of the object. The latter would be the natural verb to express Divine knowledge (but cf. 17:25), although it would include also human certainty (see 2:9). But it is doubtful if the two verbs can be differentiated with any precision.1 Both are frequently used in the LXX to render יָדַע; and the following list of passages shows that they are often used in Jn. without any perceptible difference of meaning.
Both verbs are used of Christ’s knowledge of the Father; γινώσκω at 10:15, 17:25, οἶδα at 7:29, 8:55. Both are used of the world’s knowledge (or ignorance) of God, or of that possessed by the Jews: γινώσκω at 1:l0, 17:23, 25, 8:55, 16:3, 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:6; οἶδα at 7:28, 8:19, 15:21. Both are used of man’s knowledge of God and Christ: γινώσκω at 14:7, 9, 17:3, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 2:4:6, 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:8, 1 John 2:5:20, and οἶδα at 1:31, 33, 4:22, 14:7. Both are used of Christ’s knowledge of men or of ordinary facts, e.g. γινώσκω at 2:25, 5:6, 42, 6:15, 10:14, 27, and οἶδα at 6:64, 8:37, 13:3. The word used for the Father’s knowledge of the Son is γινώσκω (10:15), and not οἶδα as we should have expected. With this array of passages before us, we shall be slow to accept conclusions which are based on any strict distinction in usage between the two verbs.
27. ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος κτλ. This clause (see v. 15) is in apposition to μέσος ὑμῶν στήκει κτλ. of the previous verse. Through misunderstanding of this, variants have arisen. The rec. with AC3ΓΔ prefixes αὐτός ἐστιν (as if v. 27 began a new sentence), and adds (with Θ) ὃς ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονει (from v. 15); but neither of these insertions is found in אBC*LNTbW. א*B also omit ὁ before ὀπίσω, but ins. ACא3NWΘ; the omission of the article is awkward, and is explicable from itacism, ὁ … ὀπ.
For the Synoptic forms of the Baptist’s proclamation, see Introd., p. c. Mt.’s alteration of “loosen the thong of His sandals” to “carry His sandals” (βαστάσαι for λύσαι) may point back to the form in Q. Either duty was that of a slave; and Wetstein (Matthew 3:11) cites a Rabbinical maxim (Cetuboth, f. 90. 1) to the effect that a disciple might offer any service to his teacher which a slave did for his master, except that of unfastening his shoes, which was counted as a menial’s duty.
ἄξιος does not occur elsewhere in Jn. (cf. Luke 15:19), and the constr. ἄξιος ἵνα … is not found elsewhere in the N.T. Jn. never uses ἱκανός (οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα .. is found again Matthew 8:8, Luke 7:6). Perhaps ἄξιος is the more appropriate adj. here (cf. Acts 13:25, where it is found in the citation of the Baptist’s proclamation, instead of the Synoptic ἱκανός); but cf. 2 Corinthians 2:16 πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.